Kenya-based EV startup Rom has unveiled a new shuttle bus model called the Move, which the East African country is pushing ahead with the adoption of electric vehicles.
Rome (formerly Opibus) is now planning to ramp up production of Move buses and expand charging infrastructure as Kenya’s adoption of electric vehicles, expected to boost demand for EV buses in the face of skyrocketing fuel prices. Switch to sustainable transport options.
Rome will deliver 50 MOVE buses by February next year and expects to produce 40 units a month at full production capacity. The 42-seater buses with a radius of 200 kilometers are assembled locally with parts imported from China and will cost $135,000. This bus can be configured to carry 52 people.
Rome, which designs its own buses, says it tailors them to local requirements with high ground clearance. “Making the body locally also enhances our design offering; We can move the door, create more boot space, accommodate optional window fittings or add air conditioning, and so on,” Dennis Wakaba, Country Sales Executive of Rome, told TechCrunch.
The Rome move comes after the company revealed plans to launch EV buses in 2021 to complement its motorcycle manufacturing business. It also follows the launch of Rome Rapid in July, to tap into Kenya’s planned (now defunct) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which was powered by green (electric, hybrid and biodiesel) vehicles. Its main competitor, BasiGo, already has ten EV buses on major routes in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Founded in 2017 by Gardler, Filip Lövström and Mikael Gånge, Roam previously specialized in auto conversions before moving into electric vehicle production.
“We started in 2018 by designing our own electric power trains and we have a lot of in-house expertise. We have a capability that gives us more flexibility in terms of what products we can bring to market,” Wakaba said.
Rome is backed by Silicon Valley fund At One Ventures, Factor(e) Ventures and pan-African VC firm Ambo Ventures.
The introduction of Move Bus follows Kenya’s continued push for EV adoption by zero-rating its supply of electric buses and bicycles, and exempting imported and locally assembled motorcycles from excise duty in the current Finance Act. The country also has special power (charging) rates.
Last week, the Energy Authority of Kenya published the Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging and Battery Swapping Infrastructure Guidelines 2023 to, among other things, speed up the construction of public charging stations, which is a major barrier to adoption.
As Kenya lays the groundwork for the transition to fossil fuel vehicles, electric mobility take-up in Africa is still slow compared to the developed world due to a number of challenges, including a weak electricity grid, inadequate charging infrastructure and high EV acquisition costs.